A cartoon depicting Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who faced protests last week that briefly prevented her from entering a school, in an iconic civil rights painting made waves on the Internet Tuesday.
The cartoon, created by artist Glenn McCoy, depicted Devos as the African-American girl Ruby Bridges in Norman Rockwell’s 1964 painting “The Problem We All Live With,” who is walking to an all-white school amid protests and violent resistance to school de-segregation.
To say people were unhappy with the comparison is an understatement.
my god pic.twitter.com/AhN1R4eRgX
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) February 14, 2017
Holy Christ what is wrong with people. pic.twitter.com/S5RYkR1XZx
— Sean Craig (@sdbcraig) February 14, 2017
EXHIBITS A-Z of a FALSE EQUIVALENCE HAVING BEEN MADE. pic.twitter.com/WpAmkWPr55
— FoxyJB Jenkins (@FoxyJazzabelle) February 14, 2017
The cartoon was posted online and appeared in The Belleville News-Democrat
McCoy has a history of publishing controversial and conservative-leaning comics, including a comic Rep. Steve King (R-IA) tweeted of then President Barack Obama in a turban. His comics have been featured in the New York Times and USA Today, according to his bio.
McCoy responded to backlash in a statement to TPM, saying he wanted to open a dialogue.
“My cartoon was about how, in this day and age, decades beyond the civil rights protests, it’s sad that people are still being denied the right to speak freely or do their jobs or enter public buildings because others disagree with who they are or how they think,” the statement read. “I’m surprised that some readers see ‘hate’ in this cartoon when I thought I was speaking out against hate. The drawing depicts a woman passively walking while being protected from angry protesters. Isn’t that what went down the other day when Devos visited a school to do her job? You may disagree with her on issues but I didn’t see any hate coming from her. I did, however see hate going in the other direction which is what made me think of the Rockwell image. That was the only comparison I was drawing. The level of toxicity in today’s political climate has reached ridiculous levels. I regret if anyone was offended by my choice of metaphors but my intention was to focus on the protesters being hateful and to open up a dialogue on this point.”
This post has been updated.